Byram Neighbor: “Pig in a Poke” $9.5 Million Byram Pool & Park

byram pool 2011Letter to the editor from Judy Crystal of Byram

Our town bought a pig in a poke on Monday night.  The RTM, meeting at Central Junior High, okayed the expenditure of more than nine and a half million dollars for what is called the “Byram Pool and Park Project”. There is no question that the Byram pool has been an embarrassment since 1975 when our town purchased the Rosenwald property and opened the family’s pool to the public.  However, the manner in which the current project is proceeding is an even greater embarrassment.

In spite of funds allocated to development, there are no architectural or engineering drawings or an operational plan of the costs to maintain the pools.. The Junior League has promised to make a sizeable contribution – if they approve the plans.  On Monday night their representative threatened to take their marbles and go home if the project was delayed until adequate research can be done.  Some RTM members seemed to bow to the blackmail.

In the outline currently on the table, there will be a large pool, a kiddie pool and a splash pad, allowing for a total capacity of 310  This is quite an increase over the current 40!  Only 30 additional parking spaces are proposed.  I wonder what the sailors, tennis players, beachgoers, and are expected to do.  No attention has been paid to the danger of street parking in the area.

It was pointed out that recent capital projects – think MISA and Nathaniel Witherell – have run an average of 37 percent over budget.  We’re planning a budget of more than $9.5 MILLION (which includes the League’s promised but not yet actual capital campaign, think the Witherell project) for a fantasy.  The footnote: our mill rate will be increased 2.75%!  This is not “their” money.  It is ours!


Judy Crystal
Byram, CT

  • Patty Sechi

    As a long time resident of Greenwich and a mom of adult kids who used to swim in the pool when they were little, we were very grateful to have the pool at Byram Beach. Though it was small, it seemed to handle the number of locals who wanted to use it. I used to swim laps there, and I know a lot of seniors happily used it too.

    While I know the pool is in disrepair and could use enlarging, I do not understand why this has to be such a grand project. We are not building a country club here and I really doubt that people will flock to the pool from across town. This is a very quiet, serene little beach and lovely park and I feel that this huge project is way out of scale for this park, and not in keeping with the feel of the place.

    The upkeep issue is a really problem in so many places in town already. We already do not have the appropriate budget or the personnel to keep our parks and public spaces in good order. One of the biggest issues all of us who work on public/private partnerships have to look at is sustainability. I hope this project gets scaled down to a sustainable and sensible size!

  • RTM Member

    Dear Ladies,
    While your comments are welcomed, the RTM Budget Overview Committee fought tooth & nail for the RTM to have some level of oversight on the park/pool project including its design, cost & implementation. But like you said, the Junior League seemed to win out with their “hold hostage” tactics! While the JL’s gift is probable, there is nothing binding & as they said, if they don’t like the final design they could still walk away from the project. All is to late now because the $9.5m has been appropriated in the budget.

    However, you could still call & voice your opinion to the Peter Tesei, First Selectman or Mike Mason, Chair of the BET. Better yet, you should call & speak to your Byram RTM delegation because they bought a 100% of the “Pig & Poke” hook, line & sinker!!

    Thanks for your thoughts!

  • John B.

    Another added Bonus for are ” Port Chester “Residents!

    Their getting a new Elementary School { New Leb }
    Now they get a pool.

    The Police Station , The Firehouse , GHS Misa project and now this to ad to the overpriced projects for us Taxpayers !

    Town Hall needs some serious House Cleaning For Sure –

    • DDP

      John B,
      How is this a bonus for Port Chester residents?
      Please explain how P.C. residents will benefit from New Lebanon school.
      While I am an actual tax payer here in Greenwich, I am also familiar with the tax rates in Westchester County. Any of the municipalities in Westchester would happily accept a 2.75% annual increase to their taxes like we have enjoyed over the last decade or more. I rather like the proven track record of the fiscal conservatives we have in Town Hall.
      The infrastructure needs to be dealt with. It’s a fact of life.
      I sincerely question the wisdom of your comments.

  • John B.

    You obviously unaware how the cars {New York} come over the Mill St. Bridge everyday to send kids to New Leb, Western Middle School, and Hamilton Ave. School. . You Obviously have never seen the N.Y residents slipping beach cards through the chain link fence [by the concession stand]. And further more why should TOG spend $10 mil.++ for something that will be functional from 3-4 months /year. Who is going to maintain the Pool? It’s a Beach, not a country club.

    • Freddy G.

      Hey John, if your so aware of the problem, why not videotape it happening? Do you not have a cell phone? Do you honestly think that any resident of Greenwich wants infiltration from other areas? Do you honestly think that we want outside residents taking advantage of not only our tax dollars but our community schools, pools, and facilities? Interestingly enough, it would seem that the town is much more interested in keeping Stamford residents out of Old Greenwich elementary school than they are interested in keeping Port Chester kids out of New Lebanon. You never here boo about the maids, nanny’s and chauffeurs that send there kids to Parkway or North street school year after year, it’s because no one makes a stink. Try to put one Byram child in either of these schools and out come the lawyers and the stick wielding PTA members. These are things that legal Byram residents deal with all the time. How angry do you think this makes us feel? Maybe if the town worried about policing Byram in the same way it does every other neighborhood in town, you would see a difference. From zoning enforcement of illegal housing, to residency verification of twenty families “living” in one house, to giving security to Byram beach the same way as it does in Todds Point. The pool project needs to get done, if you are so worried about outsiders using it, than do what you can to protect it, and let all of Greenwich know what is going on, and will continue to go on unless ALL of Greenwich calls for change.

  • DDP

    I have young children in the Greenwich schools. I bristle every time I receive the stringent residency verification paperwork now required by the Board of Ed. I also understand the process of proving residency is essential, given the issue we have here in Greenwich where the schools are perceived to be more desirable. It is worth noting this issue exists all over our nation. Still, the entry requirements, while not bulletproof, are difficult to game.
    Your assessment would suggest that the teachers, and administrators in our town are either not paying attention or are co-conspirators in some kind of deception to commit fraud.
    I highly doubt it.
    As for the issue you raised concerning outsiders “slipping beach cards through the chain link fence”, you know as well as I that where there is a will, there is a way. Gaming the system is likely the second oldest profession. It may be a good idea to present your findings to the town, so that steps can be taken in the new design to root out these dangerous interlopers in need of a cool down.
    As for the re-design, if you build it we (townies) will come. Whether you want to accept it or not, many of us in Greenwich are in the “cheap seats” with out a pool on the back forty. It would serve many and I would like to remind you that the real estate in question was donated to the town for a pittance or less. The structures thereon have become obsolete and need to be brought into the 21st century.
    As for the Mill St bridge, it’s a two way street. Many of us in Greenwich and beyond use it regularly to enter the Village of Port Chester. Whether you like it or not, it is a gateway to the village and we should be thankful that we have access to all that is now available there without paying one cent in real estate taxes.
    Go to a Town of Greenwich meeting and let your voice be heard!

  • RTM Member

    Aside from New Leb School being in dire need of replacement or renovation; the town/Bd of Ed are hoping for it to bring racial balance to the town’s school system. It might be more cost effective to rebuild the school than putting a bandaid on it.

    FYI – it costs approximately $15-20 per year to educate one Greenwich resident’s child.

  • Dawn Fortunato

    It’s sad that out of 5 schools in the state of CT Greenwich has 2 that are most off balance. 69% for Hamilton Avenue & 75% for New Leb all in Western Greenwich the East side if town is 20% or less. More people need to be involved and start reading it effects the entire community. It seems people are afraid to have the discussion. I encourage you to read the following and see for yourself.

  • Marcus T.

    Dave F.
    You go to the school in YOUR neighborhood, period !
    Why must kids be bussed around, unless they are going to a private school of their chose? I believe we all went to the same neighborhood school .